Although American dentistry has made great strides in the last twenty years, there are still millions of sufferers today who have to deal with the loss of a tooth, or several teeth. The main culprits remain the same as always — periodontal diseases, external injuries, and plain old tooth decay. The standard treatment in the past was either dentures or partial bridges to replace missing teeth. Today, however, dental implants are a viable option for many patients.
A dental implant is actually a root replacement for a firm foundation upon which a permanent tooth, or teeth, can be fixed, or even removable teeth are now available. They are virtually indistinguishable from a person’s natural teeth.
The rate of success for dental implants is very encouraging. Much depends on where in the mouth they are placed, but the average is around 98%. With the proper care a dental implant will last the rest of your life, never needing to be replaced.
What makes dental implant such a good idea for most patients are the outstanding benefits it offers:
Since they exactly match all the other teeth, they can really improve a person’s appearance and make it easy to smile often.
A person with dentures sometimes has trouble speaking clearly, especially when the dentures tend to slip. With an implant, there is no worry of that happening.
After a few weeks the patient doesn’t even notice the implants, unlike dentures and bridges — which can remain uncomfortable for months or even years.
Eating becomes completely natural again, with no worries about food slipping beneath dentures or bridges. This really helps eliminate bad breath.
A dental implant needs no special care, unlike the rigmarole associated with the upkeep and cleaning of dentures and bridges. This makes it extremely convenient, since literally no extra time has to be spent cleaning and soaking.
Overall health can be an issue in getting a dental implant. Generally speaking, anyone who is ready for a regular tooth extraction or some oral surgery is a good candidate for a dental implant. Those who smoke or have some kind of chronic health issues — like heart disease or diabetes — are not considered good candidates for dental implants. Also, anyone undergoing radiation therapy in the head and neck area would likely be discouraged from the procedure. As always persons considering a dental implant, should first consult with their health care and dental providers to find out if an implant procedure would be in their best interests.
One drawback to dental implants at the present time is that the majority of health plans do not cover the procedure, so make sure you check with your health and dental insurance provider to see if you qualify for the work.
Once the decision is made to have a dental implant the patient will work closely with an oral surgeon to schedule several visits to have the offending tooth, or teeth, removed, the gums and roots examined for healthiness, and then the construction of titanium posts upon which the replacement teeth will be built. In all, it might take four of five visits to have everything in place.
Most patients experience very little pain. If there is any discomfort afterward it can usually be alleviated with an over the counter painkiller like Tylenol.
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